A Singular Aim
Interview by Charlene Chan
Photography by Alecia Neo and courtesy of SingaPlural
In the few years since it was launched in 2012, design festival SingaPlural has become one of the mainstays of the annual Singapore Design Week, drawing both local creatives and a dedicated following amongst the general public. Organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), the team’s willingness to embrace a diverse range of design disciplines has clearly paid off: with collaborations across fields like architecture, interior, furniture, fashion and graphic design to look out for, one can hardly claim disinterest.
The 2017 edition of SingaPlural, which will take place in March, aims to present a different aspect to the work we have come to appreciate from local designers and brands. Themed “Stories—A New Perspective”, the upcoming iteration hopes to peel back the layers surrounding the efforts of Singapore’s designers, giving visitors a glimpse into their world of creativity. We catch up with Mark to find out how his team plans to uncover the narrative threads that run through our design landscape.
Can you tell us about some of the changes to the lineup to look out for at SingaPlural 2017?
Together with BLACK, our curator, we have edited the structure of SingaPlural slightly so that we can delve deeper into the pillars that matter. The simpler format is made to reflect the journeys that creatives, brands and manufacturers take in their respective fields, which will hopefully allow them to find more relevance in the programmes and activities.
One of the highlights will be Tomorrow: Design Stories of Our Future, an exhibition which brings together 10 groups of creatives to dream up stories of our future. Something new is our Pop-up segment, which will connect Singapore brands and designers to come up with unique content only seen at SingaPlural. Another important pillar, PLATFORM, started with an open call for concept proposals from creatives aged 35 and below; the 11 selected proposals will be presented at SingaPlural 2017.
The theme for 2017 is Stories—what do you think a focus on narrative will do?
It should bridge the divide between creatives and guests. The themes of the past two editions of SingaPlural were Process, which lifted the mystique of the creative process; and Senses, which sought to engage the audience in immersive, sensorial ways. This year, we hope to touch the hearts of visitors by presenting the installations as relatable vignettes echoing the voices of designers.
What’s a particularly memorable story you’ve come across in your work with SingaPlural?
It involves the Old Central Police Station at 99 Beach Road, our venue for the last two editions of SingaPlural. It’s a disused building, and as much as we loved its history and the possibilities that came with it, we realised it required a lot of attention to transform into a usable space. Lights, toilets and the airconditioning were not working, and a lot of things were falling apart.
That challenge really brought the team together in solving problems on the fly, and was a great canvas for us to work on. Every year, we face the dilemma of whether to find an easy-to-use venue where we can just move in and focus on the content, or find a very evocative type of environment, and go in and have the environment inspire the works.
Read more in The U Press N˚14 (Singapore edition).